About me

Who am I?

I (David Thorstad) am a philosopher at Vanderbilt University. Before that, I was a research fellow at the Global Priorities Institute and Kellogg College, Oxford. We had very good breakfast.

Before coming to Oxford, I did a PhD in philosophy at Harvard under the incomparable Ned Hall, and BA in philosophy and mathematics at Haverford College. I held down a few jobs along the way, including a stint teaching high-school mathematics in Lawrence, Massachusetts and a summer gig as a librarian for the North Carolina National Guard.

My research

My academic research has two strands. One strand focuses on longtermism. Longtermism is roughly the view that in many of the most important decision situations, what it is best to do (or what we ought to do) is what is best, or near-best for the long-term future. In general, I suggest that the case for longtermism may be more complicated than it appears. With Hilary Greaves and Jacob Barrett, I am editing the first academic anthology on longtermism, under contract with Oxford University Press.

The second strand focuses on inquiry and bounded rationality. Theories of bounded rationality ask what rationality requires of bounded agents, who have limited cognitive abilities and incur costs in exercising their abilities. Typically, theories of bounded rationality move away from questions about attitudes (what should you believe? prefer? desire?) towards questions about inquiry (how should you figure out what to believe? prefer? desire?). I set out and defend a five-point approach to rational inquiry for bounded agents in my book Inquiry under bounds, under contract with Oxford University Press.

I am writing in my personal capacity

I am writing this blog in my personal capacity. The views expressed in this blog are not the views of the Global Priorities Institute, or of Oxford University. In fact, many of my views diverge strongly from views accepted by some of my colleagues. Although many hands have helped me to shape this blog, the views expressed are mine and mine alone.





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